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CanJam at RMAF October 2013 Impressions Thread - Page 2  

post #16 of 353

Never mind.

New Fostex Open RP Thread. (Click to show)
post #17 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by sling5s View Post

Thanks.  650mw into 32ohms doesn't sound very ideal to drive the LCD-2.  

And yet they sounded great. I'm not looking to drive them to ear bleeding levels. The bass control was not as good as other beefier amps I've heard and that may be a manifestation of the lower power/headroom. But overall the sound was delish for $120.
post #18 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pidgeon View Post

Strangely there are not Ragnarok impressions yet?

The Ragnarok is a prototype in the true sense of the word. I don't think critical evaluation is appropriate.
post #19 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by negura View Post

The LCD-Xs not that worthwhile mentioning?

They sound fantastic. They feature the Audez'e house sound and never appear grainy or sibilant. The bass is terrific. That said, it's tough in a noisy room to make critical evaluations vis a vis their other offerings. I can't say where they fit sonically in their lineup until I get some time alone with them. The LCD-XC is another interesting animal. They are the new closed back offering. I think I still prefer the open design, but these wee very interesting. They are NOT a strong candidate if you need sound isolation. I could still hear the ambient notice quite clearly. But if you want to enjoy the Audez'e signature without disturbing the rest if the family, these might prove the solution.

Another very interesting offering in the same genre are the new 3-D printed mad dogs. While I'm not sure they offer quite the same resolution as the LCD-XC's, they do it at 1/3 the price. At $599 they sounded exceptional.
post #20 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by sling5s View Post
 

Thanks.  650mw into 32ohms doesn't sound very ideal to drive the LCD-2.  

 

And yet it's just shy of 120dB into your ears so... um... ya.

 

In other news, where's the InnerFidelity daily wrap ups :(

post #21 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by leesure View Post


Another very interesting offering in the same genre are the new 3-D printed mad dogs. While I'm not sure they offer quite the same resolution as the LCD-XC's, they do it at 1/3 the price. At $599 they sounded exceptional.

 

I might have mentioned this elsewhere, but I (a non expert) was very surprised at how amazing the Alpha Dogs were!

thought they easily compared with, if not out shone the LCD-XCs.   not even on a $ to $ value comparison, straight up.

BUT-

 I think that was due to the source/amps also.  (and non quiet listening environment)

 

the LCD-XC I heard at RMAF were attached to a small, portable (labelled prototype) amp

vs

Alpha Dogs hooked up to a beefy Burson (model escapes me)

 

I'd have zero problem with some Alpha Dogs if $ allowed.  Dan is ahead of his time with those 3D printed cups.

amazing stuff.

post #22 of 353
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jexby View Post
 

 

I might have mentioned this elsewhere, but I (a non expert) was very surprised at how amazing the Alpha Dogs were!

thought they easily compared with, if not out shone the LCD-XCs.   not even on a $ to $ value comparison, straight up.

BUT-

 I think that was due to the source/amps also.  (and non quiet listening environment)

 

the LCD-XC I heard at RMAF were attached to a small, portable (labelled prototype) amp

vs

Alpha Dogs hooked up to a beefy Burson (model escapes me)

 

I'd have zero problem with some Alpha Dogs if $ allowed.  Dan is ahead of his time with those 3D printed cups.

amazing stuff.

LCD-XC is on their prototype dac/amp/dsp - made for their line, so I don't think the XC was at a disadvantage necessarily. Totally fine to prefer the AD to XC in my opinion.

post #23 of 353

But we all know how bad amps have been before from companies that specialize in headphone audio.  

post #24 of 353
Anyone tried the new ciem by JHaudio, "roxanne"?

Any impression would be greatly appreciated biggrin.gif
post #25 of 353

Day 2 pics

 

https://www.facebook.com/LeeShellyPhotography/posts/530728017002132

post #26 of 353

I was able to attend the first two days and it was awesome! First show was not a disappointment . I even won the amazing AK120 tonight although I'm thinking of selling them to fund a headphone upgrade. I haven't been able to listen to many cans so I was trying everything. I was focusing on the headphones since I'm not convinced that amps make a big difference (when they have enough power) and everyone is agreed that headphones do :dt880smile:

 

Some of my favorites were:

TH-600 - they aren't flat, but my ears didn't care cause they just had a really great sound. A little v shaped if I remember correctly. I thought it had a little too much treble, but for some reason I didn't mind at all

HE-500 -probably my favorites, listened to a saxophone piece from the Burson Conductor and I literally moaned with how good that sax sounded.

HD600 - Not as impressive as the bigger contenders, but it just has a beautiful sound. I can't think of anything wrong with it, it just doesn't shine like the HE-500 and Audeze LCD-2, although after one listen each I couldn't choose a favorite, so that speaks pretty well of it.

Audeze LCD-2 - I've read reviews calling these dark, but I didn't find it that at all. I thought it had a similar sound to the HE-500, but just smoother. The HE-500 has some punch to it, where the LCD is just really smooth and relaxing. I really enjoyed both sounds.

 

Some surprises:

HD800 - I didn't really like these. Too much treble detail and I didn't notice the massive sound stage people talk about. Now, the show is not a great place for critical listening, but I think the highs just demanded too much of my attention for me to enjoy the rest.

Electrostatics - I tried a number of electrostatics for the first time (Koss, Stax, King Sound) and while they sounded really amazing on some tracks, they were off on others. Jack Johnson sounded perfect, but when I pulled up The Throne Room track from A New Hope, the trumpet timbre was way off. I checked out an a Capella piece and the vocals were off as well (although Jack Johnson seemed normal). The weird thing was that this phenomenon seemed to be true of all the electrostatics. Sounded great with Jack Johnson and off with the others.

My modded Grado SR225i - I was happily surprised with how well my Grado's did against the bigger guns. No, they didn't sound as good. Yes, I could tell a difference, but the difference wasn't nearly as large as I had expected.

Phillips L2 - I thought the newest addition to the line was really good. It is a more balanced sound than the X1 and a better one IMHO. Just make sure if you use a cable with the microphone, that you plug it in the correct way, since if you don't it sounds like crap :) I plugged it in wrong since I have never done audio on a phone and didn't think to ask.

 

It was cool to go to the Panel with Tyll about "What should headphones sound like?" which had some of the audio engineers who have made some of the cans at the show. The vendors were awesome to talk to and hang out with. Great experience.

post #27 of 353

Highlights from Saturday at RMAF.  Sorry some of my photos are too dark, as I though the iPhone 5s camera was supposed to be better and left the Leica in my room.

 

JH AUDIO - I got to listen to the "Roxanne" 12 driver custom IEM, in a universal fit with Complys foam tips.  This WENT ON MY WISH LIST AS #1.  It sounded wonderful, and the first time I enjoyed a universal-fit demo of a custom as much as my best actual perfect-fit customs (i.e. ES5 and JH16Pro Freqphase).  My particular JH16Pro Freqphase that I tried side by side sound like they're related, but the Roxanne had a little smoother treble, and punchier but still well controlled bass.  Same wonderful 3D sound that the Freqphase JH16Pro offer, and a step up from my JH13pro which are still very nice but not as immersive.

 

The demo did have a bad cable that had one side cut out if I moved the cable near the amp.  The bass control was very easy to go too far up or down in level with a small turn of the pot. Otherwise I had nothing to complain about.  The carbon fiber looks even better in person. 

 

 

 

We stopped by the Sennheiser table and tried the new Momentum on-ear, and I preferred their more natural voicing to the older over-the-ear version which seem to have a bump in the bass and treble.  The midrange on the aluminum cup HD-25 was fuller than the Momentum over-the-ear which sounded more distant, and was closer to the full mids of the on-ear Momentum.  But I still thought the treble on the aluminum HD-25 and over-the-ear Momentum is slightly grainier than that of the Momentum on-ear.  My vote goes to the Momentum on-ear, as they sound more like my V-MODA M-80 that I enjoy.  My son preferred the aluminum HD-25 for being "more energetic".  I'll have to add pics later, don't know what happened to the ones I took earlier.  IF I didn't already own the HD25-1 II, and V-MODA M-80/M-100 I'd have bought the Momentum on-ear today.

 

We also stopped by Schitt Audio a couple of tables over from Senn, and enjoyed the Asgard and Valhalla with the HD600, HD800 and V-MODA M-100.  My son has the Modi/Magni stack and now has his sights set higher to the Bifrost/Asgard stack.  Disappointed that the Bifrost and the new DSD DAC draw too much power to use with the iPad camera connection kit, while the Modi works just fine.  Also happy to discover from them that the iPad lightning connection kit now works with the iPhone 5S with iOS 7!

 

At the TTVJ table we listened to the new Apex Teton amp and were impressed.  I preferred the vinyl rig over the CD player, but I can't get my records as clean and quiet as Todd. I still prefer the Pinnacle by a small margin, but the Teton was very transparent and open with good bass on the HD800.  We also tried a new cable by Ted the CablePro, which I think is newer than the Freedom cable that I enjoyed so much last year. It was not a production cable and had the wrong label on it, so I didn't catch the name - it might have been the Euphoria cable, and I think they'll retain the Reverie, Freedom, and Euphoria and drop the Panorama or EarCandy.  I'll try to confirm the name tomorrow. I did compare their cable vs my APS V3 cable that I've had for 6 years, and I slightly preferred the new CablePro cable.  It seems to render the instruments more solid and present in the room than the APS V3 cable did.  I believe this one is now a UP-OCC wire (panorama was a silver plated copper I believe).

 

 

ONE OF MY FAVORITES of the show (WISH LIST ITEM #2) after the JH Audio booth was the CEntrance booth with the new HiFi-M8 (hifi-mate).  The M8 connects to the iPhone or iPod or iPad with a digital DAC that by-passes the internal DAC of the iDevice, and feeds the DAC output directly into the built-in balanced headphone amplifier.  This sucker sounds just like my DACmini, coming within about 3-5 dB of the headroom the DACmini offers, but in a portable package that can run over 6 hours on a transcontinental flight.  Personally, I'd be happy to use it as a desktop amp replacement. or as a transportable, since the 19v power adapter is so small. But it did fit nicely into my cargo shorts side pocket with an iPhone 5s strapped to it.

 

I compared this to my Pico DAC/RSA SR-71b balanced portable amp with the iPad camera connection kit, and for $350 less money the M8 has no problem keeping up with or exceeding the older rig at the expense of about half the battery life of the older rig.  The M8 driving the LCD-2 rev2 and HD800 seemed to have a more open and spacious soundstage than the Pico DAC/SR-71b, which made the M8 rig a little more immersive and believable.  The SR-71b has loads of power but mine is serial #003 and doesn't have the gain of 21 that the newer ones have, and so mine is only slightly more powerful than the M8 after being modded to around a gain of 16-18 (best guess, over the original gain of 11).  While the Pico DAC is a 16/48 DAC that up-samples to 24/96, the M8 will be user upgradable in the future to native 24/96!

 

The M8 is an even better match for the new Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC (wish list item number 3) which are 5-6dB more efficient than my LCD-2 rev2.  The LCD-X hit insanely hard with the hifi-M8.  But with my older LCD-2 rev2 I might have liked a tiny bit more power for listening in a noisy room like at CanJam.  At home or the hotel room the M8 is more than powerful enough for the 91dB LCD-2 rev2.  I know because I'm listening to that right now.

 

 

 

My son and I hit the Ray Samuels Audio booth and played with the F-35 Lightning amp, driven balanced out of a $25K CD player.  The SR-71b and the new RSA Lightning amp are quite good for a portable driving the HD800, with lots of voltage swing, and they did benefit from a better DAC than my portable Pico DAC.  With the nicer balanced DAC in the desktop CD player the F-35 was able to "scale up" to the source nicely, while the HiFi-M8 cannot accept an external DAC.  It may very well may keep up with the hifi-M8 when using a good quality balanced source, but I'm not sure yet without getting to compare side-by-side.  At home my SR-71b is quite competitive with my DACmini as an amp, but with slightly less air and a little warmer sounding mids.  This difference in sound signature lends itself well to driving my HD800 headphones with the SR-71b.

 

Here at CanJam, with LCD-2 rev2 I had my SR-71b maxed out at 5 o'clock without distortion (iPad > Pico DAC as source), but the F-35 Lightning could match that volume at only 2 o'clock.  Turning up the F-35 volume to 3 and 4 o'clock yielded at least 3-4 dB more in clean volume than my old SR-71b maxed out.  Lot's of bass slam and hard hitting rock music, even with a lower voltage source than Ray's balanced CD/DAC - Wow!  If I didn't already have an SR-71b I'd put this Lightning on my list of gear to buy today.  I don't recall the last time I used the SR-71b 1/8" jack, but I do use it often with my balanced HE-500, LCD-2 and HD800, feeding it with a Nuforce DAC-100 or CEntrance DACmini.

 

Ray says the current SR-71b can pass up the lightning (at least on paper), but if you have an older SR-71b like me and don't plan to use the 1/8" jack, the new Lightning amp might be the way to go if size really matters.  It's about 30-40% smaller than my SR-71b.  As for me, after hearing how good it sounds with a balanced DAC I need to get a balanced input cable to try it with my Stello DA-100 Signature or Perfectwave DAC.

 

This is what happens when Ray gets a huge slice of cheesecake at The Cheesecake factory... "WTH, this thing is bigger than my head!"

 

 

I don't want to forget the Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC, which became #3 ON MY WISH LIST.  The extra or larger soundstage, and higher efficiency are really appreciated with the LCD-X, making up for the lack of beautiful wood cups to drool over.  I really enjoyed them out of the AK-100 and the HiFi-M8, and they play way louder than you'd ever want with these portable DAC/amps that mimic desktop quality sound.  I daresay I prefer the LCD-X to the LCD-3. They have a new wave-guide type of device called the Fazer that minimizes the cancelation of the sound-wave reflections off the planar-magnetic structure, smoothing out the frequency response.

 

What was most surprising was how well the LCD-XC performed, with very little change from the open air LCD-X and none of that "closed headphone" sound signature that we hear so often in a poorly designed closed headphone.  Last year the LCD-XC didn't have a name, nor did it have any bass impact - that is very different this year.  Yet the bass is not boomy or muddy like many closed headphones, nor is the sound stage constricted like many closed headphones.  I still have a psychological bias against closed headphones in general, and if given the choice to spend $1799 on one or the other I'd probably pick the open version, but not because of any issues with the sound of the closed version.  On the other hand, while the XC closed phones don't isolate a large amount of outside noise, they do a great job of containing the noise to within the ear cups so they wont bother people around you.

 

 

Another highlight of the show was the Headamp table with Blue Hawaii SE and SR-009.  What can I say.  Every time I listen to this lately I decide to sell my DIY KGBH and KGSS to buy a BHSE.  Then I start to realize how much of a PITA it would be to find a buyer, collect payment without being cheated, ship them safely, and then come up with the additional $2K to pay for the difference, while still putting two kids through college.  It's just hitting me right now as I type this.  Sigh.  Reality.  The sound reproduction just seems to effortless and free, it's liberating.  But putting this on a credit card would be suffocating.

 

 

Westone has some upgraded models, with the same drivers but improved cables, connectors and optional microphones for iPhones. The shell can also be customized with colors, via removable plates. I listened to the W30 and W40 and compared to our W3, and the sound is just as good as ever.  I didn't have a wonky cable on the W30 that caused the left driver to cut out a couple of times when I turned my head, so I don't know what the deal is whether that happens often or not.

 

 

 

I DON'T HAVE PHOTOS FOR THE FOLLOWING YET:

 

The ASTELL & KERN table was showing off the AK-100 and AK-120 digital audio players, and I did like having a touch interface and small size, but I'm still partial to my iDevice with a portable DAC and amp.  Battery life isn't huge, but not too short, although I forgot what they told me it was.  And $699 - $1200 or so it's a lot of money for either player, unless you need exactly what they can do.  

 

What I did think might go more mainstream is their AK-10 which is a very small 24/96 iPhone/iPad DAC/amp that has a micro USB to Lightning or to 30-pin cable, and a headphone out jack, with controls to play, pause, skip or repeat.  It's going to be $299 and for the sound that I heard I think it just might be worth it, since you can use FLAC player on your iDevice to play 24/96 FLAC (or VLC).  They use Wolfson 8740 DACs, and the AK-120 is a dual DAC unit.  I screwed up these photos too, but shouldn't be too hard to find online.

 

WOO AUDIO - I also played with the Woo WA7 and still like it a lot, same as last year.  I didn't try the new tube driven PSU for the WA7 yet.

 

HiFiMan - I have almost all of the HiFiMan headphones and amps and still recommend them as much as before.  (RE-252, RE-262, RE-400, RE-600 IEM + HE-5, HE-5LE, HE-500, HE-6 headphones + EF2, EF5 and EF6 amps + HM-801 and HM-901 players), so i didn't spend much time at their table today.

 

V-MODA has the new Verza DAC/amp for iPhones, and my son fell in love with this - the unit can run for 7 hours on a charge and is 1/2 the size of the HiFi-M8, it can also charge your dead-iphone from the internal 2200MAh battery, while the M8 charges the phone only if you plug the amp into the wall.  Like the M8 it has bass boost and a gain control plus optical out, but lacks the balanced output or treble boost of the M8. The M8 and Verza can run off a computer via USB.  

 

The HiFi-M8 has another  feature not included on the Verza, which is adjustable output impedance, with settings for 1, 2 or 11 ohms to help tune the headphone out to the headphones you are using. But the Verza offers a "3D" setting that mostly expands the soundstage and they claim is best with a speaker or car rig (i.e. feed optical out into a DAC and amp).  I will have to try this 3D feature later, but they recommended for speakers and not headphones (maybe like SRS improves a laptop speaker sound and separation). They have an optional billet aluminum iPhone case that can attach to the Verza and connect the two units together.  This combo of case and DAC/amp retails for $699 ($598 without case).

 

The Verza clearly adds at least 4-5 dB or more in extra volume to the HD800 over the built-in iPhone 5s headphone amp, with much improved impact and kick, although it's less helpful with a very efficient and low-impedance headphone like the M-100. Even with M-100 I do believe I got some additional soundstage and detail out of the Verza that wasn't available with the built-in amp, even with just a few minutes trying it out. The iPhone 5s can "drive" the LCD-X decently, but they were MUCH more enjoyable via the Verza as DAC/amp to power them.  In the future on I'll do some comparisons at home between the M8 and Verza, but not sure there is time tomorrow/Sunday at the show.  i could tell that the HiFi-M8 was a bit more powerful than the Verza (3-4x more juice I believe), but Verza was still sufficient to drive most headphones that can't be driven well by an un-amped iPhone.

 

ABYSS headphones - heard them on a Liquid Gold amp and unknown source out in a front table between the two towers (not CanJam room) and wasn't impressed.  Seemed a little bland to me, coulda been the source or amp?  The vendor was using very nice interconnects though (crystal cable I think).

 

FOR SUNDAY:

 

I need to listen to the Mad Dog headphones, as well as Beyer and Fostex.  

I need to listen to the Cavalli Audio Liquid Lightning Mk3 prototype (bring my SR-007 mk1 with me since he only has the Mk2 and some SR-009)

I need to visit Moon-Audio and order a balanced input cable for my SR-71b.  

Find the Abyss headphones with a great source/amp and give 'em one more try.

I need pix of the AK-100/120 and V-MODA Verza.

I want to try out some speaker rooms although I'm not in the market anymore.

I'd like to find a cheap pre-amp or optical DAC with remote volume control for my son.

post #28 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnarwold View Post

HD800 - I didn't really like these. Too much treble detail and I didn't notice the massive sound stage people talk about. Now, the show is not a great place for critical listening, but I think the highs just demanded too much of my attention for me to enjoy the rest.
This is one issue I have with large meets, the background noise makes it so you have to turn up the volume to get a good demo. Usually I can mentally compensate for that, but with the HD800, you really need a quiet room to let the headphone do it's work properly. If you turn it up so you can hear the full spectrum over lots of people talking nearby, you will be greeted by quite a bit of treble.
post #29 of 353
Did you compare the Roxanne vs JH-3A?
post #30 of 353
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

ABYSS headphones - heard them on a Liquid Gold amp and unknown source out in a front table between the two towers (not CanJam room) and wasn't impressed.  Seemed a little bland to me, coulda been the source or amp?  The vendor was using very nice interconnects though (crystal cable I think).

 

FOR SUNDAY:

 

Find the Abyss headphones with a great source/amp and give 'em one more try.

 

I'll be revisiting RMAF tomorrow and will likewise be trying the Abyss again. I listened to the Woo/AURALiC rig in the Abyss room (8000), and while I thought Joe and the boys fixed the glaring issues with last year's prototype, there was a strange quality to brass (hint of kazoo) that makes me want to try another setup. They have a Liquid Gold up there connected to Light Harmonic DaVinci dac, which is their preferred setup and the one I should have listened to.

 

Also, the JPS/Abyss guys were glowing about the Woo monoblock setup in room 574 and urged me to try it; which I'll probably do.


Edited by thune - 10/13/13 at 12:16am
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